Cuban Black Beans and Rice, Rapido!

One of my best gluten-free meatless recipes is for black beans and rice in the Cuban style. It has protein from the beans, tons of flavor from the seasonings and extra nutrition from brown instead of white rice. It is a dish I serve often at home and I knew that Sarah was going to miss it when she went to college.

My recipe includes a lot of preparation: chopping white onions, mincing garlic, chopping green peppers, cooking brown rice, and, most labor-intensive, soaking and cooking dried black beans from scratch. That style of cooking is not going to happen in a college dorm. So I carefully developed a quick version using canned beans, dried seasonings, instant brown rice and other pantry staples. The fully cooked beans can be frozen in portion sizes to reheat in the microwave, making this a cook-once-serve-often dish.

The quick version was so delicioso—and so easy—that I am going to include it not just in Sarah’s college recipe file, but also in my own repertoire of busy-day cooking.

For readers interested in my original recipe, I offer instructions in “Variations” at the end of the recipe.


Cuban Black Beans and Rice, Rapido!

Yield: 6 main-dish servings


  • For the beans:
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans black beans, not rinsed, liquid included
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 gluten-free chicken bouillon cubes, preferably Herb-Ox
  • 1 (4-ounce) can mild chopped green chilies or jalapenos, optional
  • 2 cups dry instant brown rice, cooked according to package directions
  • Mild chunky tomato salsa, as needed, for garnish
  • Sour cream or nondairy alternative, as needed, for garnish


  1. Place all ingredients, except chilies if not using, in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently to keep the bottom from burning.
  2. Lower heat so mixture stays at a brisk simmer. Stir frequently. Let cook for 30 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
  3. To serve: Place brown rice in a serving bowl, top with beans, garnish with salsa and sour cream.


Variations: Replace canned beans with 1 1/3 cups dry black beans soaked overnight (or quick-soaked by boiling), drained, cooked in water to cover until tender. Replace dried onion with 1 medium chopped onion, garlic powder with 2 cloves minced garlic, and canned chilies with 1 large green bell pepper chopped. Sauté the onion, garlic and pepper in olive oil until tender and add to cooked beans. Add all other ingredients, except chilies, and cook until flavors develop. Replace instant brown rice with cooked-from-scratch brown rice or white rice.



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